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First Looks At PCI-X, BTX, New Chipsets, And More

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the first-blush-followed-by-unveiling-and-then-more dept.

Graphics 187

rsrsharma writes "AnandTech has some early bird Computex 2004 coverage up its sleeve. Included are the first pictures and partial specs of nVidia's NV45, the PCI-X (PCI-eXpress) successor to the 6800 Ultra, and ATI's PCI-X cards. Also shown are Intel's new 9xx line of chipsets and LGA-755 motherboards, BTX form factor (the successor to ATX) motherboards, and much more. I'm definitely looking forward to this stuff." Update: 06/01 01:08 GMT by T : Several readers have pointed out that PCI-X properly stands for "PCI Extended" rather than "PCI Express."

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NO ONE CARES! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299383)



Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299644)

He will be our next president and restre sanity back to the US

Hardware upgrade (0)

tabo_peru (582809) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299391)

It seems that that this is a good moment for a hardware upgrade. I think I'll dual boot again this year, but I need a new box to be doom3/hl2 ready.

Nice... (1)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299394)

But what about guys like me that need a dozen (or two) PCI slots and at least as many ISA?

Re:Nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299411)

stop the mad nerding

Re:Nice... (5, Informative)

tokachu(k) (780007) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299455)

I'm assuming you're talking about NICs (I for one need quite a few PCI slots myself for the thing). The newer tower computers (early 2005) will probably have lots of PCI slots, one AGP slot, and one PCI-X slot. Small-form-factor computers will have one of each.

It also kinda irks me when I see that PCI-X will not be in any way compatible with older PCI cards. They ought to change the name. This is a good technology, don't get me wrong; this speed is needed for both the newer video cards and gigabit and 10-gigabit network cards of the future, but when people try to stick in the old PCI cards that their cable/DSL provider gave them into those slots and find that they don't fit, they'll be making a call to the manufacturer wondering why a PCI card doesn't fit in a PCI-X slot.

A bureaucratic nightmare, indeed. Change the name, Mr. Industry, or you'll regret ever inventing tech support.

It should be noted that Mr. Anand mostly focuses on the gaming industry. I knew him back when he was in high school and he only looked at new technology if it would help him get his game on. So for mainstream society and the people who use game consoles instead of PCs, this isn't necessarily news.

Re:Nice... (1)

Karamchand (607798) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299469)

Why only one PIC-X slot? Will these be like AGP - just one per board or is this just in the transistion phase? - Thanks!

Re:Nice... (4, Informative)

rsrsharma (769904) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299479)

Eventually, PCI-X will be used for everything. Right now, however, the only cards that actually needs the extra bandwidth it provides are graphics cards, so they'll function like AGP.

Re:Nice... (1)

Karamchand (607798) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299563)

Ok, thank you for your clarification (though now I am confused about PCI-X and PCI Express, but I'll read the discussion about it:)

Re:Nice... (4, Informative)

hattig (47930) | more than 10 years ago | (#9300020)


This has been said 100 times on here at least in the past.

PCI-X is classic old PCI running very fast and 64-bits, etc. As used on server motherboards.

PCIe is the new specification with the tiny connectors for general I/O, and longer connectors for graphics.

There is no limitation on PCIe connectors unlike AGP, apart from the chipset. Each slot is point-to-point, so you need a controller for each one.

Here [] is a motherboard with two PCIe slots (x4 and x16), a standard PCI slot, and 3 PCI-X slots.

Re:Nice... (2, Informative)

pantherace (165052) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299656)

Ummm, you are getting your standards confused. PCI-X is a fine name for what it is.

PCI Express is not compatible with standard PCI, however PCI-X is (just higher clockspeeds (up to 533) & a 64-bit interface)

Re:Nice... (1)

megan_of_wutai (649071) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299700)


Will people *PLEASE* stop calling PCI-Express "PCI-X". PCI Express is completely and utterly different to PCI-X, if you have to abbreviate it call it "PCI-e" or similar.

PCI-e is a completely new bus, it's serial, it has lots of speed grades.

PCI-X is basically faster clocked, 64bit, parallel PCI, at 66mhz and 133mhz (extending up to 266mhz and 533mhz with PCI-X 2.0).

Read about it all here [] .

And please fail to make the mistake again, I'm fed up of shouting at my monitor, thankyou.

Re:Nice... (1)

stevew (4845) | more than 10 years ago | (#9300084)

Yeah - but you gotta admit the choice of names was STOOPID!

I've seen it called PCI-E (usually with a capital letter) and this seems to be the easiest nomenclature around.

Re:Nice... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299470)

I think this picture [] shows you exactly about the size of the new Nforce 3 boards with many PCI slots. I'm really hopeful that these new boards can perform as well as the last ones.

Re:Nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299529)

DAMMIT you got me


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299548)

Just a friendly warning for those who didn't notice the Troll moderation on the parent and not dilligent enough to examine the actual linked URL.

Re:Nice... (1)

bofkentucky (555107) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299562)

The joys of sun hardware! Quad Fast Ethernet, great little cards, standard PCI or SBUS with four 10/100 full duplex ports. They can be multiplexed (Trunked is sun's terminology) together so you can get 2 "200FE" or 1 100FE + 1 "300FE" or 1 "400FE" interface(s). We use them in a 2x200 config for "cheap" switch redundancy.

Re:Nice... (3, Funny)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299642)

I already have a compaq quad port. Then I have FDDI, GPIB, direcpc, 8port serial, atm155,token ring, arcnet (just got the PCI arcnet, woohoo!), HIPPI, fibre channel, myrinet, and a few others that don't come to mind at the moment. As for ISA, there's localtalk, a GCR floppy controller, omninet, starlan 1baseT, etc. All of which can't be found in PCI versions.

So getting a magam 7/13 pci expansion box isn't enough, I needs lots of both. And it wouldn't hurt to have AGP on top of those (though I could live without that, it's not a gaming box).

Re:Nice... (1)

BRTB (30272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299704)

Umm... maybe this is a stupid question, but what do you need all those interfaces at once for? Some kinda uber-router-of-everything?

Re:Nice... (1)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299737)


GNAA announces hostile takeover of Electronic Arts (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299397)

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(C) GNAA 2004

I FAIL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299403)


PCI-X != PCI express (5, Informative)

Blaskowicz (634489) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299406)

As usual there's some confusion between PCI-X (64bits PCI up to 133mhz) and PCI express which is a serial bus. Please call that PCI-E or whatever!

Re:PCI-X != PCI express (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299420)

Right. But from a marketing point of view, that's an excellent name to call it since people don't even know the difference!

Re:PCI-X != PCI express (1)

Boone^ (151057) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299569)

PCI-e is a parallel serial bus. I believe it can have up to 16 high-speed serial channels.

Re:PCI-X != PCI express (1)

thegrommit (13025) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299573)

Yep, this is what happens when ignorant fanboi's submit before doing a quick check. Here are the PCI-Express [] and PCI-X [] specs. It's unlikely PCI-X will make it onto the average consumer level motherboard, but PCI-Express certainly will.

Re:PCI-X != PCI express (4, Insightful)

Graff (532189) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299878)

It's unlikely PCI-X will make it onto the average consumer level motherboard, but PCI-Express certainly will.

The PowerMac G5s [] have 3 PCI-X slots on their motherboards. So there are at least some consumer-level motherboards being produced with them, even if PCI-X isn't being adopted wholesale by the computer industry.

Re:PCI-X != PCI express (1)

pantherace (165052) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299665)

Actually specs for PCI-X go up to 533 (though if anyone has made that is a different question.)

No, we had a meeting last week... (1)

lucifer_666 (662754) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299831)

And decided that PCI-X is a better marketing term, more easily grasped by consumers as something "good."

As a result, much confusion will arise, we know. But, pretty much from here on in, when you here "PCI-X," it's referring to the newer technology of PCI-eXpress.

That is all.

Error in summary (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299407)

PCI-X and PCI-Express are NOT the same thing!

Re:Error in summary (1)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299813)

An error in the summary? On Slashdot? Never!

Easier Reading (5, Informative)

evilmuffins (631482) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299409)

If you don't feel like clicking through a hundred pages, use the "print" link instead. []

Re:Easier Reading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299741)

Yes, thanks for that! mod parent up, the print link always > the normal article.

asdf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299410)

That should be PCI-E not PCI-X. They're two different things.

What's the deal with BTX? (1)

clubin (542806) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299412)

The article doesn't have much BTX coverage. Is there to be any advantage to the spec., other than a size difference? What is the intended audience for BTX-form motherboards?

Re:What's the deal with BTX? (3, Informative)

prisen (578061) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299445)

AnandTech [] has a halfway decent article on the spec. Good summary of what it is and who it's aimed at. As I understand it will eventually be mainstream, where ATX will be phased out just like AT was.

Re:What's the deal with BTX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299452)

Besides size, there is the fact that the CPU is now near the front intake of a computer thereby getting the cool air from outside as opposed to getting the system circulated air at the position it commonly is in now.

Re:What's the deal with BTX? (1)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299625)

IIRC one of the key features is the processor cooling built into your case.

As well as the fact that there's three or four different sizes IIRC.

Re:What's the deal with BTX? (1)

chamblah (774997) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299667)

Is there to be any advantage to the spec., other than a size difference? What is the intended audience for BTX-form motherboards?

BTX is intended to replace ATX. With the new form factor the CPU is placed closer to the front intake fan for better cooling of the CPU & RAM.

BTX info []

Re:What's the deal with BTX? (1)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 10 years ago | (#9300057)

Hopefully those 2 BTX boards pictured are not typical boards. I cannot imagine a ATX replacement with... 1 expansion slot. Eww.

PCI-X /PCI Express (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299413)

IIRC, PCI-X is just an extension of the PCI standard up to 133MHz (true PCI-X) with some other protocol tricks. PCI Express is to be a serial standard capable of Gbps speeds (2.5Gbps per channel). PCI - eXpress - I dunno what this is...

Re:PCI-X /PCI Express (1)

rsrsharma (769904) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299495)

Oops. Looks like I got the terms mixed up. Sorry everyone!

You got it. (1st one!) (4, Insightful)

r00t (33219) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299780)

The key PCI-X feature is "protocol tricks".
Some wait states are eliminated from the
protocol, providing a nice speed increase
for cheap.

Typically a PCI-X slot is also 64-bit and
can go to 66, 100, or even 133 MHz. The key
feature is the protocol change though.

PCI Express is indeed serial, with 1 to 32
serial links working together. (like RAID)

PCI-X / PCI-Express (2, Informative)

OmniVector (569062) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299416)

I'm quite certain PCI-X and PCI-Express are two totally different things. PCI-X is a 64bit PCI port, that is backwards compatible with PCI. PCI-Express is a whole new device connection port with the goal of replacing PCI, PCI-X, and AGP. Thus, you don't call PCI-Express PCI-X.

Cycle of Upgrades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299422)

It's the cirlce of upgrades...
But seriously, it is nice to see the industry (esp. Intel) shift away from the gigahertz/integer+ wars and go for smarter-designs and less heat output. The current BTX specs promise for less noise and better heat evacuation. Lest this be modded as a troll, the linear, horizontal layot of the components does remind of the G5 quite a bit. we'll just have to see who's right.

BTX you say? (5, Insightful)

Grey Ninja (739021) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299425)

This is actually the first I heard of BTX, so I immediately flipped to the last page and had a look at the board. I have to say that the thing that bothers me the most about it, is the apparent lack of expansion slots. I only saw one slot, which was probably PCI-X?

I sincerely hope that this does not mean the end of expansion cards. Because if it DOES, I am just going to say goodbye to Windows, and get a Mac. It defeats the main advantage of a PC if I can't upgrade whenever I see fit.

Re:BTX you say? (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299490)

Your right, because of course men in black suits will go around and break all non BTX systems so they no longer work. And all hardware makers have signed their souls away so there will never again be a non BTX board made. THE END TIME IS NEAR, REPENT ALL YOU SINNERS FOR BTX ROAMS THE LAND!!!

Re:BTX you say? (1)

Mornelithe (83633) | more than 10 years ago | (#9300004)

Quite right. Oh, and please direct me to all the scores of places still manufacturing and selling AT form factor boards.

BTX will be the new standard, so eventually you'll probably only be able to buy BTX (as it's designed to handle problems with modern processors that ATX wasn't designed for). It won't happen right, away, but it will happen sooner than you think.

If BTX didn't have any expansion slots, it'd suck once that's the only kind of board you can buy. Of course, that's obviously not the case. But the original poster's concern is legitimate.

Re:BTX you say? (4, Interesting)

muppetsrule (734214) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299539)

While I think your notion headed to a Mac is "ok", I don't think the idea of adding expansion cards is necessarily going to go away. At least the concept of putting them inside the machine.

I think there are a couple of trends that are beginning to develop, both of which I think are exciting.

The first is a move to get USB peripherals up to a speed where they can be really useful. Don't get me wrong, but there has been piles of USB 1.x widgets that were really handy. I just think as USB matures and becomes a higher speed interconnect, we'll see a much broader use.

The second is that we're also moving to systems that sport a much smaller footprint than most machines in the past. I remember there there was a time in the 286-386 era this was popular, too (anyone remember the brick?), but it never seemed to take off. Personally, I think the small footprint PCs have the possibility of creating a HTPC revolution just by their small size, and the fact that they don't look like a pc.

Re:BTX you say? (5, Insightful)

aliens (90441) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299568)

I believe the boards are all "pico"BTX meaning they're built for Small FormFactor (SFF) PC's. Such as the one's Shuttle Makes []

Hence the lack of expansion slots.

And if you read through it, BTX is an Intel design not adopted by AMD yet. So I wouldn't worry about moving to Mac right now.

Re:BTX you say? (4, Informative)

Blackeagle_Falcon (784253) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299805)

I believe the boards are all "pico"BTX meaning they're built for Small FormFactor (SFF) PC's. Such as the one's Shuttle Makes

These are picoBTX boards (one expansion slot each), but I don't think picoBTX is intended for SFF machines, according to an earlier Anandtech article [] picoBTX is still 8" x 10.5", awfully big for an SFF machine.

Shuttle will probably continue using their own custom motherboards for their designs.

Hence the lack of expansion slots.

The microBTX and BTX sizes will have more expansion slots (up to 4 and 7 slots respectively).

Re:BTX you say? (1)

aliens (90441) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299857)

Mod him up, he's right.

It doesn't change the fact I'd really enjoy having one of those SFF PC's.

Just gotta wait a little longer for the next socket design for AMD64 to come out.

Re:BTX you say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299576)

rtfa, those are the equivilent of micro-atx boards (hence picoBTX) so there shouldn't be much room for expansion...

Re:BTX you say? (3, Interesting)

volsung (378) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299584)

They were only showing a picoBTX board. Go read the Anandtech BTX article [] to see the different BTX sizes proposed. The picoBTX form factor looks about like the small form factor motherboards in Shuttle XPCs. The standard BTX board has the same number of slots as you are used to in normal systems.

Re:BTX you say? (3, Informative)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299612)

Those two motherboards are both picoBTX boards, designed for small form factor systems. Not all BTX stuff will be that size just as not all ATX boards are microATX or FlexATX sized.

For more info on BTX have a look at this AnandTech article [] , or check out [] if you want to look at the actual specifications.

Why are there still parallel ports? (5, Interesting)

LiberalApplication (570878) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299633)

Take a look at this photo [] .

Am I missing something? They've replaced the standard ATA-IDE connectors with Serial ATA connectors, gotten rid of all of the PCI slots, but for some reason kept the FDD drive connector and the parallel port? Most newer motherboards support booting from USB flash device. As for the parallel port, there aren't many devices being sold today that use them and there are parallel-USB adapters available for those who want to use their old printers.

I know this is a pico-ATX board so it's understandable that the PCI slots were removed for space-saving purposes, but if a pico-ATX enclosure can't fit an extra PCI card, why leave room for a floppy drive?

ummmm.... (1)

MarcoAtWork (28889) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299754)

As for the parallel port, there aren't many devices being sold today that use them

well, sorry but I'd like to keep using my PRINTER when I next upgrade my computer: heck, my old laserjet 4L is still alive and kicking after 10 years of valuable service.

Even high end Laserjets (say, LJ4300) still come with parallel ports only (if you don't want to spring for the network enabled models).

Re:ummmm.... (1)

stubear (130454) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299884)

You can pick up a USB to parallel connector to allow you to keep using your printer.

Re:ummmm.... (1)

Erwos (553607) | more than 10 years ago | (#9300098)

Have you ever actually tried doing that? USB->parallel has always been tricky to set up, and, at best, marginally supported by print drivers (in both Linux and Windows). And if you want bi-directional, you're almost certainly out of luck. At least that was true with all four printers I tried it on.

In other words, USB->Parallel is an ugly solution, and it's best not to get into the situation in the first place.

I'm never going to buy another printer that doesn't have an ethernet jack built into it (or 802.11b, but you get the point). It's the only relatively sane way to future proof them, and more to the point, almost certainly keep future OS compatibility. Interestingly, it looks as if you can get consumer-level printers with built-in wireless networking now (HP 5850, for example).


Re:ummmm.... (1)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299888)

Yeah, because hardware manufacturers design around YOUR needs, not the needs of industry.

So if YOU demanded MFM/RLL support in a hard drive, should hard drive manufcturers provide backward compatibility?

Re:ummmm.... (4, Informative)

Graff (532189) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299925)

I'd like to keep using my PRINTER when I next upgrade my computer: heck, my old laserjet 4L is still alive and kicking after 10 years of valuable service.

Just get a Ethernet <-> parallel print server [] . Then you can still use the printer with any computer that has Ethernet. Plus you can use it with any computer on your LAN without needed an active computer to share the printer

Re:Why are there still parallel ports? (1)

brucmack (572780) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299829)

My guess is that the chipsets they are using already support these things, so it really isn't adding to their costs to put them on the board. Whether there is space for it or not is up to the person or solution using the board. On the other hand, extra PCI slots do require thinking about where they will fit externally.

Man, I wish I had a job (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299429)

Back a few years ago when the economy was booming, I was a regular buyer of bleeding edge electronics. Man, I had the iPod, Rio, latest video cards, fastest wireless NICs, the works. But I also had a job back then.

Nowadays, I am watching these parts sit on the shelves while my job gets sent over to India. Everyone loses here.

Indian workers get paid a fraction of what I used to make, so they obviously can't afford to buy hardware in the quantities and qualities that I used to. Hardware makers are taking the loss on the chin as we speak. Not only that, I am stuck behind a freaking counter ringing up H1B drones at Starbucks (which has a pretty good health plan actually).

There was a time when American businesses used to respect the talents of their employees. Gosh, what was it? 5-6 years ago? Nowadays it's all about cash in abundance. Niggas I used to run with are rich or doing years in the hundreds. I switched my motto, instead of saying fuck tomorrow, the buck that bought a bottle could have struck the lotto.

Anyway, I just wish I had more money to buy this stuff. It all looks so cool.

Regarding nVidia's NV45 (-1, Troll)

Tuvai (783607) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299437)

If you take a closer look you'll notice that this particular card has a PCI Express x16 interface, but with no bridge chip. It looks like the rumors of a bridgeless NV45 were true.

Re:Regarding nVidia's NV45 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299512)

Dude, you are the cut and paste MASTER!

Insightful? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299531)

From the article:

Upon closer look you'll notice that this particular card has a PCI Express x16 interface, but with no bridge chip. It looks like the rumors of a bridgeless NV45 were true.

I love how people on Slashdot are willing to plagiarize in order to gain a little karma.

Re:Insightful? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299817)

I love how people on Slashdot are willing to plagiarize in order to gain a little karma.

I also love the fact that a large number of people wasted their mod points on me, and if I'd cared enough to rearrange the words, just a little, I would not have been caught.
Says a lot doesn't it?

PCI-X != pci express (3, Informative)

cheese_wallet (88279) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299442)

PCI-X and PCI Express are not the same protocol. PCI-X is still a 32/64 bit parallel bus that handles FIFOs a little differently than PCI (i.e. the master can transmit unless the target has enough fifo for a complete transaction). It also changes the timing of the bus to allow for speeds up to 133MHz.

PCI Express is a serial protocol.

Re:PCI-X != pci express (1)

devinoni (13244) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299503)

If you are feeling lazy, the proper abbreviation is PCIe.

No for transitioners I guess. (3, Interesting)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299473)

I too got yanked in to the PCI-X =/= PCI-Express dupe. I was looking forward to backwards compatability so that companies could just start spewing forth their wares and normal PCI board users could still use them. Plus current cards would still work. Someone in someone's marketing dept needs to be shot. BTW, 'splain those little slots? They remind me of the failed CNR idea. Better yet, for a transition (though more expensive) they could do what they did with PCI/ISA, double the slots PCI next to PCI-Exp.

Re:No for transitioners I guess. (1)

khuber (5664) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299538)

I think the slots have to be tiny so you can fit one those ridiculous dual slot graphics cards AND a sound card.

Re:No for transitioners I guess. (1)

Mr. Arbusto (300950) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299758)

Backwards compatiblity isn't that big of an issue. PCI-Express is slated to remove the need for other PCI and the awful AGP.

CNR failed because it wasn't very useful. All you could do is put a limited device in it (i.e. modem) and if you already a PCI, Serial or ISA modem there was no reason at all to get move to CNR.

PCI-Express has a lot of potential and can easily be the end all interface for you cards for years to come. It is very fast, very low latency and more importantly it can the ONLY interface on every board that you'd ever need.

Embrace this change, it will make the world a better place. I also think it could be a better place of PCs finally got rid of PS/2 and parallel ports, but they just recently got rid of ISA so I'm not going to hold my breath.

Re:No for transitioners I guess. (2, Informative)

irokitt (663593) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299787)

The slots are tiny because PCI-Express is a serial protocol, unlike PCI or ISA which are parallel. Only the graphic card slots need more data paths.

As for doubling PCI-Express cards next to normal PCI slots, most of the boards you see pictured do that. They seemed to average 2 PCI slots, 2 PCI-Express x1 slots, and a PCI-Express x16 slot for a graphics card. And many of the motherboards also supply an AGP slot for people who want to use one of the AGP-dependant cards that are out now.

For me, the most curious thing was seeing a motherboard with two different CPU sockets, but that isn't a dual-CPU capable board. Kinda creepy.

PCI Express x16 and AGP... (3, Insightful)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299475)

Nice to see both PCI Express x16 and AGP 8X slots on board at least one [] of them. I'm looking to squeeze a bit more life out of my AGP based ti4200 before updating to one of the newer video cards in a year or so...

PCI-X is not the same as PCI-Express (5, Informative)

Theovon (109752) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299504)

PCI-X is a 133mhz bus which is backward compatible with PCI and PCI66.

PCI-Express is a system bus but is more of a networking protocol using high-speed differential signaling (like DVI and SATA) as the physical layer.

PCI-X and PCI-Express are similar only in name (and some similarities in how "config space" is handled). They are really two radically different things.

Someone explain please... (3, Interesting)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299547)

This pic [] shows the inside of the NV45. Look at the paths on the circuit. Instead of going straight from one chip to another they form different loops, turn around etc. Are they trying to make them longer, or equal distance or introduce picosecond delays or what?

Re:Someone explain please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299611)

I'm pretty sure it is to make them equal distance so that the timing is the same on different lines.

Re:Someone explain please... (5, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299683)

Yep, they are usually to make different traces either equidistant or to introduce necessary delays. Another reason to use non-straight paths is to avoid RF interference and induced current between PCB layers. Also hard bends in a trace can often lead to leakage and singaling problems so you might need two smooth curves to avoid a single hard corner.

Re:Someone explain please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299757)

Generally, all of the traces for a data bus need to be very close to the same length. Length = time, so when traces have different lengths, each signal arrives at a different time.

This matters because flip-flops have (among others) two properties that dictate how quickly they can be clocked: setup time and hold time. Setup time is the amount of time before the clock edge that the data signal has to be stable. Hold time is the amount of time after the clock edge that the data must remain stable.

When only one signal is involved, the minimum time between clock edges would be setup time + hold time (actually a bit longer, but this is a post, not a book). But, when more signals are added, both the fast one and the slow one have to meet timing for the same clock signal, so the minimum time grows to setup time + hold time + difference between fastest and slowest signal. When you're running at frequencies in the 100's of MHz, a very short distance can make a pretty big difference.

So, in summary, it's probably to keep all of the signals on a bus the same length. If you look, you'll see that the trace with the longest natural path (the one going all the way around the edge) pretty much takes the best path, and the further in you go, the naturally shorter signals start to add bends and loops. That's almost definitely to make them the same length as that long outer trace.

Re:Someone explain please... (5, Informative)

csirac (574795) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299839)

I've never designed a high speed digital board before, but I guess it's to compensate for the transmission line effect.

Let's pick a number. Say 500MHz. Depending on dielectric constant of the PCB substrate, thickness, etc. a ball park figure for the speed of a signal propagating along one of those traces is around 70% the speed of light, so 2.1E+9 m/s. That makes the 500MHz signal have a wavelength of about 4.2m. Now, consider a 20cm trace. That shouldn't be unrealistic on a video card, if you actually followed one around on the PCB, it could be longer.

That trace has delayed the signal by 17 degrees, or 0.05 of a wavelength, which may or may not be significant. If we have the 64 data lines in a 64bit bus all different lenghts, you can see that different bits are going to "arrive" at different times.

Transmission line theory is a black voodoo art, where you can do all kinds of neat stuff like "create" reactive components and make matching transformers (impedance matches) or filters (different goal, same method) on your high frequency PCB just by making a carefully calculated sudden change in track width, plus the necessary "stubs"...

This all very over-simplified, but yeah, the squirly bits are to keep them all the same length (my guess). I'd be very worried if digital circuits needed impedance matching transformers made out of microstrips ;-)

Re:Someone explain please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9300058)

Yeah, that's pretty true, but you need to calculate the fact that it's not the frequency of the clock that matters so much as the rise time (and fall time) of the signal's edges! Even if you have a 1Hz (ONE Hertz) square wave, with rise times in the sub-nano range, all the transmission line effects apply. So you really need to figure the whole spectrum of a signal into the picture. Let's say you do have a 500MHz square wave. To properly build up the rising edge, you need at least the 5th harmonic, preferably more. So the 5th harmonic is at 5x500MHz, or 2.5GHz. That's where the fun begins.
I own a TDR with a 50ps rise-time pulser and 90ps sampler. At that rate, you can see the weave of the glass strands in the coarser grades of epoxy PCBs....

Re:Someone explain please... (1)

pklinken (773410) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299932)

It looks to me like the layout of this board was done using an evolutionary algorythm ;-)

Re:Someone explain please... (1)

csirac (574795) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299954)

Hah. Can't be much worse than EAGLE's seemingly random ripup/reroute/guess again router :-)

Mind you, I'm the biggest EAGLE fan there is. I hate Protel with vengence. EAGLE rules (has an very well supported Linux version too). I'm sure OrCAD/Mentor are cool too, but I'd have to sell a kidney and my first born child to get it...

My Apologies... (5, Informative)

rsrsharma (769904) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299574)

It looks like I got my terms mixed up. Sorry everyone! For those who are confused know, here's what I think the difference is:
  • PCI-X: 64bits PCI up to 133mhz
  • PCI Express: Serial bus, a replacement for AGP (mostly), and for graphics cards (at the moment). What I accidentally called PCI-X (PCI eXpress)in the article. From other articles I've read, it looks like it'll be used for all cards eventually. Although I still think this acronym makes more sense than PCI-E, I guess it'll confuse some people who have actually heard of PCI-X before. I have this wierd feeling that the industry is gonna call PCI Express PCI-X now (it sounds way cooler).
Some other info on PCI Express:
  • There can be different sizes of slots. All the graphics cards use x16 size slots, while it looks like most other types of cards will use x1 size slots.
  • It will eventually become ubiquitous like PCI
  • More information in this article [] .
I'm sure I got something wrong, feel free to correct me.

Re:My Apologies... (1)

megan_of_wutai (649071) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299773)

You know, I have the feeling the industry *won't* called PCI Express PCI-X, what with both standards being set by the same people

See here [] .

Also, hopefully, a fair few manufacturers will put some x4 slots on their motherboards as well as x16. And we've seen hints of dual x16 slots too.

woa thread FX (1)

NeedleSurfer (768029) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299585)

Wow! this thread echoes!

PCI-X is not PCI express
PCI-X is not PCI express ... ... ..

DRM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299618)

We already know that ATI uses DRM. What about the bios on these boards? I would kindly ask that if you don't like DRM, that you stay away from these if they have it, and make sure to spread the word. NO DRM!!! None. Nicht. Nien. Did I say NO?


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299646)

LGA 775 NOT 755!!!!!!!

Green? (1)

sammyo (166904) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299648)

Ok, ok, now does anyone know which of these fancy smanchy new protocols is more green? eh? No PCI-nuclear for me.

Oh, btw, PCI-X is not PCI Express.

Hot New Hardware - Advice For Free! (1)

darth_silliarse (681945) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299672)

Stick with what you have got, believe me in the long run it's worth the non-hassle. You save money, you watch other people rant over how such-and-such has crappy drivers, you read in glee as something-or-other has crashed their Colonel, you read forums where the members literally shout for H-E-L-P C-O-S M-Y G-F-X C-A-R-D W-O-N-T W-O-R-K. Damnit I've had so much hassle over new hardware I'll only be upgrading when something breaks and then - apart from hard drives - it'll be second hand eBay stock. Stability and speed don't always go hand-in-hand :O)

warning ! rip offs ahoy! run 4 ya lives!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299687)

/rantmode ON

I mean it too, BTX form factor means that you have to THROW your old ATX case ATX is not perfect but damn...have to pay 100+ beans for a new case? no, thank you!

775 pin LGA or whatever its called this week is also suspect to me cause the pins are now IN the socket and are subject to being bent.

Can you imagine bending your sockets pins and then having to trash an otherwise perfectly working mobo? sheeeit!!

On top of that, 775 pin cpus are ( from what ive read) DRM filled goodies as well. Dont buy into the hype!

pci-x or pci-e is nice etc etc, but I just do NOT need that kinda stuff now, nor do I need DDR-II (look and see how much that RAM costs at the moment, anyway, you will cry)

Im usually a coupla years behind the curve in the parts department and damn it, I like it like that!!

Hells Bells, I'll be a very excited camper when I can afford a p4 system, sheesh. /me runs in circles and looks for titanium tinfoil propeller beanie /rantmode OFF

Re:warning ! rip offs ahoy! run 4 ya lives!! (4, Interesting)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 10 years ago | (#9300037)

the point behind the BTX formfactor was that it's supposed to help enhance airflow in the computer itself. ATX is nice and all, but most chassis these days are crap. (I'd say they blow, but that's a pun I'd like to avoid.) Sure, they worked back when P2s and K6s were the rage, but they're not anymore, and modern CPUs have far more dramatic cooling scenarios to deal with.

explain please (1)

RelliK (4466) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299702)

OK, what's the deal with LGA-755? Pins on the motherboard? How is it supposed to work? And why??? (the ever changing sockets is one of the things that pisses me off about intel).

PCI-Express 1x. What's the speed? (not much from the looks of it) and what's the advantage over plain old PCI? I'm assuming we will see boards with more than one 16x slot at some point, which would be useful for RAID controllers, gigabit ethernet, and other high bandwidth stuff. But what's the point of 1x slots? Plain PCI works just fine.

BTX. Again, why? And who the fuck came up with this stupid name?

What are the brown slots on these [] SiS boards?

Re:explain please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299731)

brown slot == AGP 8X slot
PCI-E 1x > PCI (300mb/s iirc)
and for BTX.. intel came up with it, so direct flame to them for the gay name

Re:explain please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299860)

Hey genius, why don't you take 30 *seconds* to do
a google search.

It's x1, not 1x, and it's 200MB/s, far greater
than PCI. "From the looks of it"? shoot me now.
Smaller usually means *faster* in computers/electronics, you know.

Lastly, "plain PCI works just fine"? How about
"ISA works just fine". "VESA works just fine".

This is exactly why I hate reading /. sometimes:
posts like yours get modded up, while posts like
mine (ie, anonymous) start off with a penalty.

Re:explain please (3, Informative)

hattig (47930) | more than 10 years ago | (#9300090)

LGA-775 is getting a lot of flak because of reliability rumours. However it will be more suitable for higher clocking processors from Intel and is needed.

PCIe 1x is 250MB/s in each direction. That's enough for a dual Gigabit ethernet card, and each slot gets dedicated bandwidth.
PCIe 4x is 1GB/s in each direction. Eight port GigE ethernet card anyone?
PCIe 16x is 4GB/s in each direction.

(those will be new adjusted megabytes of 10^6 bytes, not 2^20)

Look at the extra space on the motherboard when the 1x slots are used as well - should allow more more on-board goodies or smaller boards.

BTX is Intel's idea. Because of their stupidly hot processors. Looks like it will flop badly.

Dunno what the brown slots are. Thought they might be AMR or CNR or something. They are only test boards though - see the edge connector?

My prediction on BTX and PCI-X (0, Flamebait)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299887)

Biggest flops since the PS/2 motherboard form factors and Microchannel. ;)

Serial ATA? One channel? Please! People will want to run dual IDE controllers with IDE legacy drives.

We need more than one expansion port, how else are we going to replace that built in Winmodem with something decent or stick a better network card in there than the crud that is bundled with the BTX board? Also where does the video capture card go?

PCI-X biggest flop since Microchannel or EISA.

Now I know what companies not to invest my money into, thanks! ;)

Re:My prediction on BTX and PCI-X (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 10 years ago | (#9300111)

BTX will flop I think. It is designed by Intel, nobody is making cases or boards, and only exists because of Intel's heat problems.

PCIe will be a big success.

PCI-X is already a success in the server area.

SATA is currently 1 device per channel. However future SATA specifications will allow chaining of drives.

That was a picoBTX board. Full size BTX has 6 expansion slots.

Damn (0)

sulli (195030) | more than 10 years ago | (#9300225)

Several readers have pointed out that PCI-X properly stands for "PCI Extended" rather than "PCI Express."

I was hoping for "PCI X-Rated."

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